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Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Apple sitting

A leisurely fall trip to the orchard, plus a pie recipe.
The author is shown posing in an apple orchard and wearing a red outfit with long billowy sleeves.

A leisurely fall trip to the orchard, plus a pie recipe.

Happy October babes! This month I’m here to talk about my recent trip to Appleberry Farm in Cross Plains, about 10 minutes west of Madison. My friends and I started visiting Appleberry Farms in 2020 as an attempt to do more COVID-safe fall activities together, and it has become something I look forward to with the changing of the seasons. Appleberry Farms is one of many local farms where you can go pick your own produce—apples and pumpkins in particular. Others include Schuster’s Farm and the Eplegaarden. Now me, I’m still only mildly nature-y, and the actual labor of apple-picking itself doesn’t hold strong appeal, so instead I do what I call “apple sitting.” That’s where you bring your own folding chair and eat snacks in the orchard while chatting with your friends who may or may not be apple picking. Appleberry Farm is great for apple sitting (and picking) because on the weekends they have a snack area with apple cider brats, apple cider doughnuts, hot cider, hard cider, and other snacks. You can also buy pre-picked bags of apples and cold cider in their storefront. 

As a person who struggles with the lower temperatures and fewer hours of daylight this time of year brings, purposefully finding time to bundle up a bit and be outdoors in the sun is great for my mental health. Add in delicious seasonal snacks and cute friends and it’s a total pleasure! 

When I left Appleberry Farm for the day, I bought a box of their apple cider donuts and a bag of apples so I could also make a seasonal nostalgia favorite of mine: apple pie. My grandma used to make apple pies (and apple butter and apple sauce) from the apple trees in my yard growing up, and it’s one of the skills I picked up during the early stages of the pandemic when going home was not an option.

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There are a ton of ways to make apple pie. My grandma not only doesn’t work from a recipe, but when I first asked her, she told me to just buy store-bought crust, even though she makes her own! Nonetheless, with some loose guidelines from my grandma, I learned to make my own simple apple pie from scratch with no regrets. It’s more time consuming than other recipes I share here, but worth it.

Not-Quite-Grandma’s Apple Pie

  • 5-7 cooking apples (labels at the grocery store or the farm will tell you which are better for snacking vs. cooking)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaping cups of flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • Cold water
  • Greased glass pie pan

First: peel, core, and slice your apples. This is honestly the most labor intensive part. Have a friend, partner, or kid help if you can. Put the peeled apple slices in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine with the sugar, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups flour, salt, and Crisco. Mix and slowly add cold water until you get a dough texture that mostly sticks to itself rather than your hands or the bowl. Take your pie pan and grease it with oil spray or Crisco. Take half the dough and press it into the bottom of the pie pan and up the edges, making sure to keep the bottom layer relatively even in thickness. 

Next, slowly add the apple mixture to the pie until it’s filled to the top, but not overflowing or too domed. You may have more mixture than can fit; feel free to cook those apples separately, or snack on them as is. Take the remainder of your dough and roll it out into a circle that’s about a half inch wider than your pie pan on a floured surface. Place the dough circle on top of your pie and use your fingers to pinch-seal the edges. With a fork, poke some holes in the top; in a pattern if you’re feeling cute. If you want to get fancy, you can use any excess dough to make little designs on top of your pie, like a tiny heart or something.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the inside of the pie is bubbling hot and the top crust is golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top it with ice cream or whipped cream if that’s how you like it, and before you take a bite say “I’m a badass baking bitch!”

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